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Pole to Pole

Day 63: Aswan to Wadi Halfa

Michael Palin - Pole to PoleIn the end they confiscate two videos of Around the World in 80 Days, which are taken off for inspection, while we are allowed, after a three-hour wait, to step ashore and find transport into the town, which lies three miles away. Accompanying us are two minders from the Ministry of Information (and any country that has a Ministry of Information must have something to hide). I squeeze onto the back of a pick-up truck in which a dozen people are already standing, and we drive off across a sandy wasteland dotted with rocks and scrubby bushes. Then dwellings of the most primitive kind appear, some of them little more than cloth or skins stretched across four poles. They give way to small mud huts and eventually to a sprawl of long, low, painted buildings, one of which is the Nile Hotel.

The hotel comprises a series of concrete courtyards with communal washing facilities - there is cold running water between six and seven, morning and evening - and basic rooms with brightly painted walls. It's plain and unadorned but a haven from the bleak and burning desert.

There will be no cold beers for a while as Sudan is run according to strict Islamic law, which forbids the use of alcohol. Nor is there any lunch at the hotel. We have to dig into the stocks of cheese spread, tinned tuna and Marks and Spencer chicken breasts, which Angela has assembled in what must have been the Mother of all Shopping Expeditions. I place my thermometer in the sunshine on the window-sill of my room, where it registers 128 Fahrenheit, fifty-four Centigrade. I have been nowhere hotter in my life.
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PALIN'S GUIDES

  • Series: Pole to Pole
  • Day: 63
  • Country/sea: Sudan
  • Place: Wadi Halfa
  • Book page no: 137

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